Gransnet forums

Care & carers

Exhausted caring for granddaughter

(63 Posts)
Honey1958 Mon 12-Nov-18 21:52:28

Hello newbie here and would welcome some advice. My daughter returned to work a couple of months ago and I agreed to look after my 11 month old granddaughter. However I am sadly finding I cannot cope very well. I do have some health conditions fibromyalgia and back pain but always thought I was fit for a 60 year old! I love her to bits but feel so terribly tired after a few hours and don't feel i can give her the best care. And increasingly not sure I want to do it anymore. My daughter and her partner would struggle to pay for childcare also they work shifts as in public sector. I need to have a discussion with them about the future but not sure where to start. Any advice or views? Thanks for reading x

Lyndylou Mon 12-Nov-18 22:26:13

Can you compromise by having her for the morning and then taking her to a nursery for the afternoon? I understand completely where you are coming from, my DS and his GF are trying for a family and they both have demanding jobs. I have already made it clear I would be happy to help out but I have a limit of 3 hours a day for a toddler as I know more would be too much. I'm sorry to say, if she is 11 months, it is only going to get worse as she gets a little older. I wish you good luck, but you need to talk to your son as soon as possible.

Lyndylou Mon 12-Nov-18 22:26:58

Sorry talk to your daughter not son!

Luckygirl Mon 12-Nov-18 22:32:13

I do think that you need to be straight with your DD. When one of my DDs wanted me to be involved in care for my GC so she could return to work we had an honest and open conversation about what might or might not be possible.

I was clear about how much I could do and when; and she then used this knowledge to make appropriate arrangements. She went back to work 3 days a week and the care of the children is shared between nursery, the other grandma and me. It has worked very well; but only because all the cards were on the table from before Day One.

If you have fibromyalgia and back problems, there is no way you can provide full time care for a toddler.

You must tell your DD. It is nothing to do with how much or little you might love your GD; it is to do with what is possible.

M0nica Mon 12-Nov-18 22:45:16

It will not help if you overdo it, have some health breakdown, physical or mental, and then cannot do any caring for the foreseeable future. It is better to discuss the problem now before disaster happens and you can still offer some help.

You are also putting you DGD at physical risk if you are becoming too tired to cope, - that is how tragic accidents happen and I know you would never be able to forgive yourself if your DGD came to harm because you were too exhausted to be aware of a risk.

Put these points to your children, I am sure they do not want to risk their child's well being in this situation

PECS Mon 12-Nov-18 22:51:37

Hi, sorry it is not turning out as you hoped. However I think it is fair to all concerned to raise this with your DD & SiL soon so they can begin to explore options. You cannot make yourself ill over this. It is their child and their responsibility.
If you could do 2 non consecutive days a week ( a Monday & Friday?) or 5 shorter days it may make it more manageable for you and for the young family.

Usually from 3 a child may be able to have 30 hours free care.. so they have to consider higher expense for 24 or so months.
Good luck flowers

Apricity Tue 13-Nov-18 01:19:37

You just have to be honest with your daughter. You've given it a go and can't manage it. It is what it is. Even without your health complications you really do notice how tired you get as you get older. When my grandchildren were younger and I was regularly looking after them I remember thinking, why am I so tired, I managed 3 little ones of my own! A few years down the track I now look after them in the school holidays and I am absolutely knackered at the end of the week. But I love every minute of it.

As others have said it will become more demanding once your granddaughter gets really mobile. It's no good for anyone if you collapse in a heap because you've become so unwell. You could offer to be available for emergencies or times when your granddaughter is unable to go to daycare because she is sick (this will happen I can assure you) or to pick her up from daycare on certain days and look after her for an hour or two until one of her parents is home from work. Maybe offer to babysit so your daughter and sil can have date nights occasionally.

Your daughter's family finances are not your problem. It is up to them to work out how they manage that aspect of their lives.

DoraMarr Tue 13-Nov-18 09:49:46

I agree with Apricity. Don’t feel you’ve failed, there’s a reason why we don’t have children in our 50s and 60s, it’s because we don’t have the energy any more! I look after two grandchildren on separate days, and I am pretty tired after it. I don’t do anything tiring on those days either- no housework or taking them to activities. They have a walk in the park and a play on the swings and slides, and that’s it.
I can understand that you want to help them, and financially childcare is a burden, but they need to manage their finances themselves, and you shouldn’t feel guilty if you can’t provide all the care. Have a conversation with them, and soon.flowers

Greenfinch Tue 13-Nov-18 09:58:22

Are you in a position to help them financially with childcare ? It would only be for a few years because as someone has said,free childcare is available for some hours after the age of three. I am not quite sure how many. You do need to make your position clear before they decide to have more children expecting you to cope.

Nannarose Tue 13-Nov-18 09:58:25

I worked as a Health Visitor, and was very aware of this problem. I completely agree that you must sort it out. I also say this as an individual - in one branch of my family, problems outside the parents' control meant they were heavily reliant on elderly grandparents for childcare, and it was very unsatisfactory. We did not live nearby - I helped out in the school holidays, but found it difficult dealing with children who had been both ignored and indulged by grandparents who, sadly, could not cope.

I would begin by looking yourself at what nursery / childminder provision is available locally and the cost. Depending on the geography and timing, you could get an idea of how things might work out.

You say that they work shifts. This may well work out for you all. Childcare providers normally need families to sign up for regular hours. Your DGD is also at an age where she will benefit from the company of other children and the extra stimulation of a nursery environment. So it may well work for you to have her outside of 'normal' hours.

You should begin a discussion with your daughter & her partner, keeping your own ideas up your sleeve until it seems sensible propose one of the ideas above.

I have a friend whose midwife daughter works 2 nights a week (equivalent to working half a week). The little one arrives at granny's having had his tea. He has a bath, milk & biscuits and a book, then settles for the night. Granny gets him up, gives him breakfast and gets him ready to take to nursery for the morning. Mum picks him up at 1pm, having had a sleep. So mum pays for 8 hours childcare from half a salary, granny contributes a great deal for relatively small effort.

I'd also add, in the meantime, that it may be worth looking out, and going to things like toddler groups, singing groups at the library, baby swim groups etc. Whilst they take effort to get ready and get to, the entertainment they offer (that you don't have to think about) can be very worthwhile.

Nannytopsy Tue 13-Nov-18 11:13:43

Nannarose your post was so sensible and helpful. We have a DS hospital doctor and DiL midwife. She too does shifts overnight and at weekends to fit in with his. They don’t always see that much of each other but can mostly cover the children. Other Gran and DH and I do cover when needed.

etheltbags1 Tue 13-Nov-18 11:34:55

My sympathy for anyone with this problem. Ive shared childminding with the other granny but from age 1 to 2 and a half before dgd started nursery i had 2 full days with her. I was on chemo and very exhausted. I just struggled on until i got her for half days and now shes at school full time i only see her once or twice a week. I was back looking after her three weeks after big op. Dont know how i did it. Mother and toddler groups are possibly the answer as at leat you can put your feet up for an hour or so. I took mine to the library on a friday. It was a lovely break to meet other knackered grans

PECS Tue 13-Nov-18 14:01:31

This thread is demonstrating how much extended families are supporting the employment figures! Imagine if no grandparents cared for DCC how many parents might think the cost of child care was to high to make it worth working! All that extra UC to be paid out!

Jane10 Tue 13-Nov-18 14:18:54

It is amazingly tiring. I feel like one of those car engines with a 'governor' fitted that cuts in and prevents speeding. The energy is just not there any more.
Good luck finding a way forward with your DGD.

Nannarose Tue 13-Nov-18 14:30:15

Thank you. I do hope that OP has found some useful ideas here.

sodapop Tue 13-Nov-18 14:42:40

I agree with everyone else Honey you need to talk to your family before your health gets too impaired. If you are exhausted then you cannot care for your granddaughter safely, both of you will be at risk.
There will be a compromise if you look at things carefully, some options have already been mooted on here. Good luck.

oldgimmer1 Tue 13-Nov-18 15:37:56

It may be a better idea all round to look for a registered childcare provider and determine eligibility for childcare costs.

Try GOV.uk website or Citizens' Advice.

Hope it works out for you.

Honey1958 Tue 13-Nov-18 17:07:32

Wow just logged on thanks so much for all the suggestions. It helps to know I am not abnormal getting knackered! I dont have granddaughter fulltime. 2 days per week was agreed but it can often end up a 24 hour stretch which is too long. Will talk to my daughter and see if we can get some nursery sessions for which I will try to help with money wise as shorter stretches would be easier. Will also consider how i spend the time with granddaughter. I think I went into it thinking i was superwoman! Just need to be realistic I suppose. Thanks for the support x

Barmeyoldbat Wed 14-Nov-18 09:49:18

We all want to help the best we can with our children but natures stopped us from having children at a certain age for a reason, we are older, get tired and have health problems but we do it, including me in the past. GN has given you some excellent advice. Thats all I can say and good luck

kwest Wed 14-Nov-18 10:07:57

I warn a lot of my friends who's children have come late to parenting, not to over-commit themselves to childcare. Much as we adore our grandchildren, we often take on responsibilities in our late sixties and seventies that a generation ago we would have been doing in our fifties. There is no comparison in energy levels. I felt at my best in my fifties. Having got through the menopause I had a huge surge of energy and studied and qualified for a whole new career. I still do some work, though reduced through choice and I still love it, I have a very active life with going to the gym for aquarobics and Pilates classes three times a week, lots of lunches out with friends, WI membership and I help out with child-minding in emergencies but not with a regular commitment. It works well for me but I have friends who are permanently exhausted, at the beck and call of their adult children, expected to help out with child-minding to the extent of a full -time unpaid job.
Adult children make a big thing these days of having a career and seeing the world, or 'having a life' before settling down to reproducing in their late thirties and forties. What they don't factor in is their own parents energy levels. When child-minding is an occasional affair, the relationship with the grandchildren is lovely. We can be more relaxed and more tolerant, have fun and share treats, when it is not our daily norm. We are not the regular disciplinarians, as we would have to be if this was a daily undertaking. It feels lie a win-win situation.

hereshoping Wed 14-Nov-18 10:25:21

These thing are a lot worse at the beginning, you do get into a routine.
I had the care of my grandson from 9 months to 13 months until he started at nursery, and I lived with them during that time.
During the first month I was counting the minutes until his parents came home, he was very fractious in the afternoons. I know that it's daunting but get out and about as much as you can, to the park and playground , a ride on the bus etc, babies love that. Play games like peekaboo or row the boat. Make sure that she goes down for a nap, to give you both rest and respite, there may be a mother and toddler group nearby and you can certainly go to that, it will give you a sit down while she interacts with other children.
My daughter typed out a routine for me, which helped a lot, I don't think that I ever had a routine when they were young.
Good luck , and hopefully your daughter can improve the arrangements soon.

Teddy123 Wed 14-Nov-18 10:27:15

We did 2 days a week starting when GS was 8 months old. I thought I was fit .... I wasn't.
So a year later broached the subject with DD and we compromised with 3 afternoons per week. Personally I couldn't handle the early morning start, approx 7.30 am.
There are emergencies when 'we' have to step in like chicken pox, eye infections and the like when they can't go to nursery and was generally happy to oblige. But not always if I had my own plans!
My DD understood and it worked well.
Moving on and GS now in second year at school & they need help collecting 3 evenings per week. Sounds easy .... But still tiring!
I fractured my wrist & ribs a couple of weeks ago (ouch!) so all after school collections cancelled.
But am thinking about my DS and his daughter. Not near us so no child care but DIL's parents were doing one day a week and then realised they were 'past it' so cut down to one morning until nursery can accommodate GD. Son wasn't upset ..... He understood that in ones 70s some of us find it all too much.
We all hate saying no .... But it has to be done and new plans put in place. I'm sure your daughter will understand

GabriellaG Wed 14-Nov-18 10:31:41

Apricity
Date nights?
Surely those happen before marriage and setting up home together...?
When you decide to set up home together, you're supposed to be responsible for your own lives, not reliant on daycare (aka GMs) so you can be away from your chidren all day and have date nights/babysitting on tap.

luluaugust Wed 14-Nov-18 10:48:13

I agree with everybody else and have been in a similar situation, what we do for love! Apart from age the DGC were about twice the size of my babies and within weeks both DH and I had developed back problems. We cut back to two days and then later one day and that had to do. I also think doing a lot of small child care can be isolating and new found freedom is taken away, the play groups etc are a good idea. Do have a chat to your DD and see what can be arranged. I wonder what the cost to the NHS is of all our bad backs etc..........

mabon1 Wed 14-Nov-18 10:48:54

Be up front. Maybe you should have thought twice about making such a commitment in the first place knowing your health issues.